Tom Langdon passes

Tom Langdon, long time reso-guitarist with The Gentlemen of Bluegrass, died on March 11, 2023 following a lengthy illness. He was 78 years of age.

Born Walter Thomas Langdon in Fair Oaks, NC, Tom was active in the bluegrass scene around Raleigh most of his life. Initially inspired to learn guitar as a boy by Chet Atkins, it was seeing Flatt & Scruggs when he was 14 that made him a life long grasser. Young Tom sought out a banjo and became proficient on that, as well as Scruggs style guitar before taking up the dobro.

Outside of music, Langdon pursued an academic career, earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Biology, while playing catcher on their baseball team. He then obtained a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, followed by a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration.

Tom taught biology, phys ed, and driver’s education for many years at West Craven High School in Vanceboro, NC, where he also served as an athletic coach in several sports. He was later able to apply his Ph.D. serving as a principal and subsequently Superintendent of Sampson County Schools.

In 1994 he was married to Lorraine Jordan, who he had met playing bluegrass in the Raleigh area. They played together in a number of groups. While Lorraine retained her maiden name in bluegrass, in her other business ventures she goes by Langdon.

She remembered Tom with this lovely tribute…

“I lost my best friend, my soul mate, and one of the only people in this world that really understood me. I fell in love with Tom a long time ago. We shared a connection in our love for bluegrass music, travels, Mayberry Days, riding motor bikes, and loving dogs. We followed the original Seldom Scene together for years. He took me to baseball and I took him to football.

We were similar in so many ways, and we were also different in so many ways. Tom liked to get up early, eat breakfast, and read. I liked to sleep in, skip breakfast, and watch TV.

Dr. Thomas Langdon was well educated and very good at things that required education. I was a road musician and an entrepreneur starting small businesses. He held a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt and dedicated his life to the education system. We made it work and we supported each others passions.

Several words come to my mind to describe Tom: kind, gentle, quiet, laid back, smart, considerate, proud, decent, handsome, loving, special. He loved staying home and he loved his family.

We will lay this remarkable man to rest in a few days in his home county of Johnston, east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Tom was loved by many and he will be missed by many. He was one of the good guys.

Rest in peace honey. You left your mark on the world, and anyone who ever met you liked you.”

Following his retirement from the school system in 2014, Tom rededicated himself to his passions for bluegrass and baseball, following the Durham Bulls at their home games, and setting up a studio where many regional bluegrass artists would record. He was also able to travel to Florida in the spring for spring training games.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, March 18 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home in Garner where Tom lived. His funeral will be on Sunday at 2:15 p.m., with a graveside service at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Clayton. A reception at the Carolina Bleu Grille in Clayton afterwards.

Saturday evening following visitation, Lorraine will host a Celebration of Life gathering at Lorraine’s Coffee House & Music in Garner, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Gentlemen of Bluegrass will perform, and other musicians are invited to bring their instruments and honor Tom with the music he loved.

R.I.P., Tom Langdon.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.